PTSD link to pandemic fears — ScienceDaily


Even at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, people around the world became more fearful of what could happen to them or their family.

A new Flinders University study of 1040 online participants from five western countries published in PLOS ONE explores people’s response to the stresses of the escalating pandemic, finding more than 13% of the sample had post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) related symptoms consistent with levels necessary to qualify for a clinical diagnosis.

With ongoing economic and social fallout, and death toll of more than 2 million, the team of psychology researchers warn more needs to be done to cope with the potential short and long-term spike in PTSD cases resulting from the pandemic — as well as related mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, psychosocial functioning, etc.

“While the global pandemic does not fit into prevailing PTSD models, or diagnostic criteria, our research shows this ongoing global stressor can trigger traumatic stress symptoms,” says lead researcher Associate Professor Melanie Takarangi, from Flinders Psychology.

“We found that traumatic stress was related to future events, such as worry about oneself or a family member contracting COVID-19, to direct contact with the virus, as well as indirect contact such as via the news and government lockdown — a non-life threatening event,” says co-author Victoria Bridgland, who is undertaking a PhD studying the triggers of PTSD.

PTSD is a set of reactions, including intrusive recollections such as flashbacks, that can develop in people exposed to an event that threatened their life or safety (e.g., sexual assault, natural disaster).

“Our findings highlight the need to focus on the acute psychological distress — including the perceived emotional impact of particular events — associated with COVID-19 and build on other research from the past year that demonstrates the damaging psychological impact of COVID-19 on mental health,” says Ms Bridgland.

Comprehensive long-term documentation of COVID-19 related traumatic stress reactions will allow health professionals to help people who could otherwise fall through the cracks, the research team concludes.

The online survey examined a range of responses to common post-traumatic stress symptoms, such as repeated disturbing and unwanted images, memories or thoughts about the COVIC-19 pandemic.

COVID-19’s psychological fallout has been dubbed the “second curve,” predicted to last for months to years, the paper notes.

“Notably, while most of our participants reported experiencing some form of psychological distress and 13.2% of our sample were likely PTSD positive when anchoring symptoms to COVID-19, only 2% of our total sample reported they had personally tested positive to COVID-19, and only 5% reported that close family and friends had tested positive.

“It therefore seems likely that the psychological fallout from COVID-19 may reach further than the medical fallout,” the paper concludes.

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Materials provided by Flinders University. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

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Alex de Minaur determined to achieve success this year after ‘dark time’ amid coronavirus pandemic


Alex de Minaur says a challenging 2020 season amid the coronavirus pandemic is “fuelling the hunger” for his bid to climb the rankings this year and achieve his best finish at a major.

De Minaur, Australia’s top-ranked men’s player, made a lightning start to the new season earlier this month when he won the fourth ATP Tour title of his career in Turkey.

The world number 23 entered the 2021 season off the back of his best showing at a major, a quarter-final appearance at the US Open in New York.

But de Minaur said his run to the last eight at the US Open could not make up for the frustration he experienced while being alone in lockdown at his Spanish base for months on end as coronavirus wrought havoc.

“2020 was a tough year. Obviously I had my best result at a Slam (Grand Slam tournament) but it doesn’t feel like my best achievement,” de Minaur said.

“It was still a dark time. I wasn’t feeling great. It was just mentally — I wouldn’t say — my best performance.

“I ended up putting a couple of matches together and I had my best result. It’s still something to be proud of but still 2020 as a whole, I would say, I had a lot of expectations for it and … it’s just fuelling the hunger for 2021, to make it even better.”

De Minaur already has a title under his belt in 2021, having won the Antalya ATP Tour event.(Twitter: ATP)

De Minaur has one more week in quarantine in Melbourne as he prepares for the Australian Open. He is able to leave his hotel room only to train.

The 21-year-old said he could not wait to get his “freedom back”.

“I’m sure that will feel amazing,” de Minaur said.

“I’ve got my goal in my head of where I want to be when 2021 finishes up, but it’s a goal that I don’t like to say out loud.

“It’s a goal that me and my team had and this is a strong start. Realistically I want to keep pushing myself up the rankings, keep putting myself at the end of weeks and keep pushing these top guys.

De Minaur, who is the second-youngest player in the top 25 of the men’s rankings, said he spent much of the extended preseason working on his body and mind.

“I don’t want just to be having a good result every now and then,” he said.

“I want to be bringing my level every single week.”

Nick Kyrgios lifts up Alex De Minaur in celebration.
De Minaur is set to team up with Nick Kyrgios for Australia in the upcoming ATP Cup.(AAP: Mark Evans)

De Minaur missed last year’s Australian Open with an abdominal tear, an injury he picked up while helping Australia reach the ATP Cup semi-finals.

He will again spearhead Lleyton Hewitt’s line-up next week in Melbourne before returning for another tilt at his home major.

“Hopefully I can be playing my best tennis at the ATP Cup and the Aussie Open,” de Minaur said.

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Ash Barty ‘ready to go’ ahead of Australian Open following lengthy break during coronavirus pandemic


World number one Ash Barty says she is undaunted by the challenge of playing at the Australian Open after almost a year away from the WTA Tour.

Unlike most players, Barty sat out almost the entire 2020 season, even skipping her French Open title defence while prioritising her health over trophies during the coronavirus pandemic.

Her most recent WTA Tour appearance was at the Qatar Open last February, where she lost in the semi-finals to Petra Kvitova.

Barty said she does not think she would be playing catch-up during her much-anticipated return at a lead-up event scheduled in the week before the Australian Open starts on February 8.

“I feel like I’ve done all the work,” she said.

“I feel like we’ve ticked the boxes and I’m feeling like every single year we continue to develop my game and it’s better and better.

“Obviously I haven’t played competition tennis for a year now so it’s going to be a challenge but we also know that hopefully again it will be a long season and we don’t have to panic if we don’t get the perfect start.

“We’ll just try and go out there and do the best that we can and whatever happens will happen.

Barty reached the last four at Melbourne Park last year, becoming Australia’s first women’s semi-finalist since Wendy Turnbull in 1984.

The 24-year-old will once again be top seed at the Australian Open but she said she would not feel any pressure from casual observers expecting her to live up to her number-one ranking.

“They can think whatever they like. If they expect me to win the tournament, then that’s their expectations,” Barty said.

“But mine certainly aren’t that for now.

“It’s about doing the right things right from the start, from the very first match, and whether I win the match or not, if I go through the right processes and do things the way we’ve always done it, I’ll sleep well at night regardless of the results.

“That’s a really important part of our make-up with our whole team. Everyone plays a role and we try and do a job to the best of our ability on that given day.

“If it’s good enough, it is. And if it’s not, it’s not. But that’s okay.”

Barty (left) beat Petra Kvitova to reach the Australian Open semi-finals last year.(AAP: Scott Barbour)

It is not the first time Barty will be making a comeback to professional tennis following a long hiatus, as she famously took 16 months off to play cricket for Brisbane Heat in the women’s BBL in the early stages of her career.

“It’s very different circumstances but I think from a personal point of view, I’ve had a lot of growth this year as well,” Barty said.

“Even though from a professional and career standpoint there wasn’t too much going on playing-wise, I still feel like I’m ready to go.

“So there’s no stresses, no concerns for me. I just try and focus on what I can well, what I know to do and I know it’s going to be a little bit rusty and that’s okay.

“But we’ll go out there and give it a crack and see how we go.”

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Why a Covid-19 vaccine will not stop the coronavirus pandemic right away


It was in 2009, when the H1N1 “swine” flu broke out in April, right at the end of the regular flu season.

“That was very challenging,” Shah, who heads the Harris County, Texas, health department, told CNN.

“There were a lot of moving pieces. It took several weeks to months to not just organize but to implement and to do safely and effectively. And that was a mild pandemic.”

This is not a mild pandemic. And while vaccine manufacturers, public health experts and the federal government are all confident one or more of the coronavirus vaccines being tested now will be shown to work safely by the end of the year, the US and the world will still be a long way from ending the pandemic.

“I feel cautiously optimistic that we will have a vaccine by the end of this calendar year, as we get into early 2021,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, who, as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is helping lead the medical battle against the virus, told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer Friday.

“But it’s not going to be turning a switch off and turning the switch on. It’s going to be gradual,” Fauci added.

“Having” a vaccine does not mean having a vaccine approved, distributed and into the arms of more than 300 million Americans.

First, any vaccine must either be approved or authorized by the US Food and Drug Administration. That’s a process that under normal circumstances can take months or years. While the FDA has promised a speedier process for a Covid-19 vaccine, it must still go through a committee known as the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, or VRBAC.

The FDA will almost certainly allow a shortcut process known as emergency use authorization, or EUA, but the agency has said it will require an “EUA-plus” that adds at least some layers of scrutiny.

“It’s unlikely that a Covid-19 vaccine will receive full approval and broad distribution right away. Instead, the FDA will probably authorize vaccines for use in targeted groups of people at high risk from Covid and most likely to benefit from the vaccine,” Dr. Mark McClellan and Dr. Scott Gottlieb, both former FDA commissioners, wrote in a commentary in the Wall Street Journal Monday. “All this means that at least initially, Covid vaccines won’t provide the sort of herd immunity that can help extinguish an epidemic.”

That will take time — likely well into next year, even if a vaccine were to be authorized in January, most experts who spoke to CNN predicted.

“People can’t be lulled into a false sense of security by knowing the vaccine is coming,” Dr. Marcus Plescia, chief medical officer of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officers, told CNN.

Although manufacturers are already making vaccine doses, it takes time. And the US will likely need more than 600 million doses of vaccine — enough for everyone to get two doses of the vaccine.

A new vaccine, and a plan for getting it out

“Let’s say … at the end of the year, there will be millions and tens of millions of doses available,” Fauci said in the CNN interview Friday.

“It won’t be until we get into 2021 that you’ll have hundreds of millions of doses, and just the logistics constraints in vaccinating large numbers of people — it’s going to take months to get enough people vaccinated to have an umbrella of immunity over the community.”

The US just is not ready for a mass vaccination campaign like the one needed to bring coronavirus under control, public health experts agreed.

Pfizer proposes expanding Covid-19 vaccine trial to include more diversity as race for a vaccine continues

“I don’t think it’s going to be seamless,” said Plescia.

The biggest mass vaccination program the US undertakes every year is the annual influenza vaccine. Only about half of Americans get a flu vaccine, and manufacturers make and distribute fewer than 150 million doses of it.

Yet it takes a full year from start to finish to formulate, make and distribute flu vaccines every influenza season.

“We start planning for flu vaccines in January or February,” Michael Einhorn, the president of Dealmed, an independent medical supply distributor covering New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania. Flu vaccines generally become available in August — seven to eight months later.

And that’s with a vaccine made using familiar technology, and dispensed in ways that people are familiar with — in pediatricians’ offices, at pharmacies, in grocery stores and at clinics.

“You have a playbook for influenza,” Shah said. “This is not the same.”

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Any coronavirus vaccines will involve new technology and a whole new process for distribution, administration and then for payment.

And while anyone can walk into, say, a pharmacy, get a flu shot and leave without ever thinking about it again, coronavirus vaccines will involve a whole lot more trouble and paperwork. People will probably need at least two doses about a month apart. Someone will have to track and follow up on that.

“We have to be able to see who has been vaccinated and who has not been,” Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, told a public hearing about vaccine distribution organized by the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine.

Paperwork and red tape

“To have two doses means that you provide the initial dose and we will need to bring the person back for a second dose a month later,” Dr. Jinlene Chan, acting deputy secretary of public health for the state of Maryland, told CNN.

And it’s very likely that vaccines made by several different companies will be in use by next year.

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“We have to make sure that we give the person the same vaccine for their second dose that they got for their first dose,” Chan said.

No vaccination program can start until there are plans in place to manage this.

Plus, the coronavirus vaccine or vaccines will still be experimental, so every person who gets one will need to be tracked to make sure there are no adverse reactions.

There is no plan yet for any of this.

“We have gotten very little information on how this is going to roll out,” said Harris County’s Shah. “That makes it even more difficult to plan.”

One big potential stumbling block is what’s known as the cold chain. The two vaccines furthest along in development both must be kept frozen. Moderna’s vaccine must be kept at -4 degrees Fahrenheit (-20 degrees Celsius), while Pfizer’s must be kept at -94 F (-70 C). While -4 isn’t much colder than the optimal home freezer’s setting of 0 degrees F, -94 is more of a challenge.

“Throughout — from every single point the vaccine has to traverse — we have to maintain it at that temperature. Otherwise, there is a risk of some degradation and the vaccine possibly becoming less effective,” Chan said. “We need to make sure that there is some capability to store it appropriately until it is ready to use.”

There's a legitimate way to end coronavirus vaccine trials early, Fauci says

Otherwise, a thawed batch could mean hundreds or even thousands of people get a dud vaccine.

This can be a challenge, said Dr. Carlos del Rio, a vaccine expert at Emory University. “We simply don’t have freezers that can reach minus 70 degrees in most clinics,” he told the National Academies meeting.

To reach enough people, any mass vaccination effort will have to go beyond clinics, hospitals and pharmacies. “You are going to have to get out to communities. You are going to have to get out to places of work,” Del Rio said. That makes keeping the vaccines cold enough more of a challenge.

Plescia said Pfizer has a plan to help keep its vaccine cold. “Pfizer is going to have special boxes they ship the vaccines in, packed with dry ice,” he said. “Once you get the box, it’ll keep the stuff at negative 80 degrees for 10 days.”

But it’s not clear, Plescia said, if the boxes could be opened and a few doses of vaccine taken out safely. “Even if these boxes work very well, it is still going to add a whole level of challenge,” he said.

Taking the mass out of mass vaccination

Past mass vaccination efforts have been just that — mass. But coronavirus is a respiratory disease, and the last thing anyone should be doing is lining people up or packing them into, say, school gyms to get vaccinated, Chan noted.

Past vaccine disasters show why rushing a coronavirus vaccine now would be 'colossally stupid'

“With mass vaccination clinics, it involves bringing large groups of people into a site and vaccinating as many people as possible,” Chan said. “How do we do that in a way that reduces the risk of transmitting the very disease that we trying to vaccinate against?”

Illinois’ Ezike said some of the experience with test sites may help. “We had these strike teams,” she said. “We have been able to convert a lot of different sites into sites where people can drive up. Can you do a vaccination through the [car] window?” she asked.

But to accommodate that, cities and states will have to get busy soon. “We are going to need additional providers,” she told the NASEM meeting. “We need mass vaccination clinics and sites. So we really want to recruit lots and lots of essential partners,” she added — especially for the communities that are hardest hit by the pandemic, including meat-packing facilities and remote rural areas.

Experts call for independent commission separate from FDA to review Covid-19 vaccines

That means changes in policies and legislation — another potentially time-consuming process. Medical practice is legislated by states, not by the federal government. “We know that we’ll need some expanded scope of practice for different professional groups,” she said. For instance, states may want to enable dentists, dental hygienists and even medical school students and veterinarians to vaccinate people.

And that requires some other levels of legislation so that providers can get paid for their time. Changes to health insurance laws may be necessary, including billing codes that provide for a system under which people get vaccinated for no charge.

Because rollout will not be immediate, people will be vaccinated in groups. The National Academies is considering this, as is the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). They, along with private advocacy groups, have already released their own draft blueprints that in general put health care workers, first responders and the most vulnerable at the front of the line. But that’s another layer of management for governments to take on.

Many states have old and unwieldy systems for managing all of this, and Ezike said the needed upgrades may take time.

Immunity takes time

Adding to the timeline is simple biology. The Pfizer and Modern vaccines, at least, will have to be given in two doses, a month apart. After that, it takes about two weeks for immunity to build. That makes for six weeks from the time someone first gets vaccinated to when they can feel safe from infection.

US could see a 'very deadly December' with tens of thousands of coronavirus death to come, computer model predicts

On top of all of this, many Americans are fearful of vaccines — especially a new one and especially a new vaccine rolled out in a time of intense politicization of the process.

“There’s general vaccination mistrust and then there’s government mistrust,” Ezike noted.

The current atmosphere over mask use has not helped, added Harris County’s Shah.

“We have made it a political fight,” he said.

“When you make it political in nature, not driven by health and medical considerations, ultimately people will take sides.”

Unless a majority of the population gets vaccinated, the virus will continue its spread. Most estimates suggest that 60% to 70% of the population must be immune to provide enough herd immunity to interrupt the spread of the virus. Polls indicate that only about half of Americans feel confident right now about being vaccinated.

And if vaccines are less than fully effective, that may mean even more of the population needs to be vaccinated to have an effect on spread.

Then there are the unknowns.

“Testing has not been seamless at all. There are going to be some glitches,” Plescia said.

“I think there is a good chance there is going to be a vaccine that works and gets us out of this, but it is hard to believe that it is going to go really smoothly, given all the things that could happen.”

Shah is ready for unpleasant surprises. “This is a super slick virus that has broken every rule in the book,” he said.

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Homeless in India Seek Vaccine on Priority to Get Rid of ‘Untouchable’ Tag Amid COVID-19 Pandemic



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Earlier this month, India kicked-off its COVID vaccination drive. An estimated 300 million healthcare and frontline workers will be inoculated in order of priority, followed by those above 50 and under 50 with comorbidities.

As social stigma has stung the homeless hardest in India, thousands are eagerly awaiting the free vaccination to reach them, so that they can reintegrate into society.

“If we get the vaccine, at least we will not be treated as untouchable”, Sonu, a homeless man, who lost his job as bus ticket collector, lamented.

Sonu is seeking help from the government to treat homeless individuals on a priority basis when it comes to vaccination.

According to him, he was earning something around $5-6 a day before the outbreak of the pandemic last year.

“But now employers are not giving any work to the homeless because they believe that we are COVID-19 carriers. It has been ten months since I earned a penny”, Sonu told Sputnik.

Sonu is one among 1.77 million homeless people who have been promised shelter over their heads by 2022 by the Narendra Modi government. As per the 2011 census, around 256,000 people are living as homeless in urban India. Nevertheless, the decadal growth showed a grim situation in urban areas, with a jump of around 36 percent in homelessness between 2001-11. It is estimated that this trend might have accelerated following the economic crisis in the country.  

Since a COVID-19 vaccine was rolled out in the country, social activists have urged the government that homeless people should get vaccinated on a priority basis.

“Homeless people have weak immunity and are more exposed to the coronavirus after healthcare and frontline workers”, Sunil Kumar Aledia, founder of the Centre for Holistic Development (CHD) and a social activist working for homeless people, told Sputnik.

“People living in the streets begging for food are more vulnerable than others. Since the outbreak of the pandemic they have suffered the most”, Aledia said.

Not all homeless individuals in urban areas are vagrants or destitute. The census of India classified one out of five individuals as beggars and destitute. As per the government data, the remainder of homeless people constitute migrant workers and nomadic tribes.

The World Health Organisation, while suggesting social distancing and using masks to curb the spread of the pandemic, said that the government should take care of homeless people more during this period. Last month, the Delhi High Court expressed concerns about the plight of the homeless and the conditions in shelters while hearing a petition filed by an NGO, the Delhi Rozi Roti Adhikar Abhiyan.

Delhi Rozi Roti Adhikar Abhiyan stressed that homeless people are experiencing economic distress due to the pandemic, and therefore, the government should continue the supply of dry rations to persons without proper documents.

The Centre for Holistic Development (CHD) has also written a letter to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and federal Health Minister Dr Harshvardhan requesting them to prioritise the homeless and migrants for vaccination. 

“Let’s see if they take cognisance of our request”, Aledia added. 



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Lessons from the pandemic: these sectors helped advisors drive value



Mo Haghbin, COO of Invesco Investment Solutions, explains how advisors repositioned portfolios after the COVID-19 market crash and how allocations should be reassessed as the global economic recovery continues.

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Toronto-area radio host recounts cancer journey during COVID-19 pandemic


Kolter Bouchard has been rolling with the punches when it comes to the difficulties the COVID-19 pandemic has created.

The 102.1 the Edge radio host has been working from home and balancing a busy life with a young family. But an unexpected fight has been consuming much of his energy since the spring: cancer.

“I discovered a couple of bumps on my neck in April of 2020, and I gave it a couple of weeks. Of course (I was) just compulsively googling what this could be,” Kolter said.

“Of course, everything comes up as cancer, and you’re like ‘well it’s probably not cancer.’ Turned out it actually was.”

Read more:
Cancer survivor says emotional toll of diagnosis changed his perspective on men’s mental health

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Receiving a cancer diagnosis is never easy. Managing one during COVID-19 presents new layers of difficulty. But Bouchard seems to handle it all with a smile.

“It’s just one more thing in 2020,” Bouchard said.

Bouchard learned he had stage 2 Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He said if you have to get cancer, this type is one of the better options given it is relatively treatable.

Throughout this process, Bouchard said he has tried to remain optimistic, acknowledging there are dark moments. He said one of the hardest things he had to do was tell his mom he was sick.

“It got to the point where I had to rush her off the phone, and we were both like, ‘OK, I’ll talk to you later,’” Bouchard said.

“I just sobbed from the furthest recess of my soul. It felt like I had a new identity at that point.”

Read more:
Pandemic worsened gaps in care, led to 30% fewer cancer diagnoses: Alberta doctor

COVID-19 restrictions have often meant getting treatment alone. Bouchard’s wife has not been able to accompany him to appointments. While he said that’s hard to deal with, he sees the impact on many of the older patients he has come to know while getting chemotherapy.

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“I’m a young guy; I’m in my late 20s. But many of the people in the chemotherapy suite are in their 60s, 70s and 80s.” Bouchard said.

“For the most part they are completely on their own and it’s just crushing,”

Bouchard has done chemotherapy for four months and says the physical toll is no joke, with or without a pandemic.

“The chemotherapy, it really knocks you on your butt,” he said.

But on Tuesday, he got the chance to ring the bell at the treatment centre, signifying the end of his treatments.

Bouchard said the lessons he has learned throughout his cancer journey will shape his next chapter.

“One thing this has taught me is that you have to be thankful for what you have, and the time you have,” he said.

102.1 the Edge is owned by Corus Entertainment, the parent company of Global News.




© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.



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Mary Berry says pandemic has taught us to use what’s in fridge


The Celebrity Best Home Cook judge, 80, said she hoped fewer shopping trips results in smaller quantities of food going to waste.

Asked how the last 12 months have changed home cooking, Dame Mary said: “It has taught us all to use what’s in the fridge and store cupboard and to adapt if something wasn’t available.

“Shopping once a week is a great lesson in not wasting food.”

The former Great British Bake Off judge added: “I hope it’s made us more appreciative of what’s around us locally and that continues.”

Celebrities taking part in the BBC One show include former cabinet minister Ed Balls and the Prime Minister’s sister Rachel Johnson, who said she “literally can’t boil an egg”.

Balls said lasagne is his signature, home-cooked dish.

“It’s a recipe my mum brought back from America when she was there with my dad in 1960 and it’s something I’ve cooked many times over the last 30 years,” he said.

“It made headlines when I was shadow chancellor,” said Balls, who was accused of holding lasagne dinner parties to undermine then Labour leader Ed Miliband at the time.

And Balls added: “I cooked lasagne for Gordon Brown when he was prime minister.

“For a man who only ever ate steak and chips, lamb bhuna or spaghetti bolognaise, this was a bit of a departure but he really liked it.”

Celebrity Best Home Cook airs on BBC One on Tuesday and Wednesday nights from January 26 at 9pm and iPlayer on demand.

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The pandemic imperative: the need for greater investment in onshore manufacturing


Australia’s all-in battle with COVID-19 in 2020 taught us a lot about ourselves and our community. But perhaps the most important lesson is that we are too dependent on offshore manufacturers for many of the goods we need to fuel our economy.

This became abundantly clear in the middle of the year with the pandemic at its peak, when international supply chains became disrupted and it took weeks, if not months, for needed goods and components to arrive on our wharves from overseas suppliers and manufacturers.

At Grow Finance, we
saw the impact first-hand in our trade finance business, with customers left
with no recourse but to wait for essential product lines to arrive while the
cost of shipping goods increased significantly, and impatient customers looked
elsewhere.

The tragic situation reminded me of a recent study that measured the complexity of the goods and services Australia exports – which is essentially a measure of what we manufacture domestically compared with other countries. The Harvard Growth Lab Atlas of Economic Complexity ranked Australia 93rd, behind Senegal, Kazakhstan and Uganda and marginally ahead of Pakistan and Mali. This was despite the study also ranking Australia as being the eighth richest country in the world.

While data shows Australia has nearly tripled its national income since 1995, our complexity ranking has dropped from 57th, with 22 of those places lost in relatively recent years. This, highlighted by the pain felt by importers over 2020, tells us Australia needs to reverse this trend, invest more in onshore manufacturing and become less reliant on significant overseas suppliers.

To be fair, there are factors which play into our poor ranking. The main one is that Australia’s top exports are natural resources. We export huge amounts of iron ore, coal and natural gas, which help strengthen our economy.

However, as the study makes clear, Brazil, Russia and Canada, also have a rich abundance of natural resources but rank better than 50th in the Harvard complexity scale. All three countries have much larger and more advanced manufacturing sectors than Australia has. Canada, for example, is especially strong in aerospace, motor vehicles and machinery production, including computers.

Harvard’s Growth Lab recommends that countries focus on moving into more complex exports based on simpler industries where they are competitive. Australia is doing this in the resources sector, where it is leading the way in mining technology. However, we also have global leaders in medical devices and biotech, with the likes of Cochlear, ResMed and CSL, the last of which has been critical to Australia’s ability to produce a COVID-19 vaccine option.

Of course, the vast majority of Australian companies are not large multinationals like these but are instead smaller companies with limited cash reserves and less ability to weather supply challenges. It is these companies that need to lead the way in investing in their own onshore supply chains to strengthen Australia’s economic resilience and become the exporters of the future.

The good news is that there are signs that some Australian companies understand this and have started to act. Data from Grow Finance’s lending book shows a more than 200 per cent increase in lending to buy manufacturing equipment between January and September this year, which coincides with a threefold increase in funding for transport supporting local manufacturing and post-COVID interstate haulage.

We expect this to be an ongoing trend, given the cracks exposed in supply chains, the possibility of trade wars impacting future supply and growing support for buying locally across the country. If the government throws its support behind such initiatives, it could be the one silver lining to emerge from COVID-19 for Australia.  

Greg Woszczalski, Finance Executive Director, Grow



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Goulburn Multicultural Festival, other local events affected by the pandemic | Goulburn Post



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The year 2020 has been a tough year for various country shows after organisers were forced to postpone or cancel the events due to the coronavirus pandemic. This year, these events continue to be affected by the pandemic and are either being canceled once again or will be held in a different format as compared to the previous years. The Goulburn Multicultural Festival scheduled for February has been cancelled this year due to the uncertainty over the COVID-19 situation. READ MORE: Multicultural Festival cancelled for the year, Harmony Day still possible Preparations on for Goulburn Show 2021 Binda Picnic Races 2021 cancelled Goulburn Multicultural Centre (GMC) manager Heni Hardi confirmed the cancellation of the event and said, “We have had to cancel the festival because it involves a lot of communities coming together.” “Everyone looking forward to the event has been very understanding and while they expressed regret that the festival was not going ahead, they fully appreciated and understood the reasoning behind it.” Meanwhile, preparations are on in full swing for the annual Goulburn Show, which has been running since 1880, to be held on March 6-7. Goulburn Show Society president Jacki Waugh said that the event will go ahead pending COVID-19 restrictions at the time. “It will be a show different from the previous years with social distancing practices in place keeping the pandemic in mind,” she added. READ ALSO: Local heroes stepping up to answer the call of their communities Another event affected due to COVID-19 is the annual Yass Show. It has been reduced to a one-day event to be held on March 20 instead of holding it over the weekend. “The 2021 Yass Show will be a one-day show only, due to COVID-19 restrictions and requirements. Unfortunately, there will not be a PBR Bullride at this year’s Show,” the statement issued by the organisers reads. In Crookwell, organisers made the decision to not hold the annual Binda Picnic Races in March this year. READ ALSO: Southern Tablelands set to get hot toward the end of the week The Crookwell Picnic Race Committee issued a statement explaining the reason behind the difficult decision. “With current and ever-changing COVID-19 restrictions on numbers attending the event and numerous other restrictions, we could not proceed,” it states. The annual event is usually attended by hundreds of people who travel interstate to attend the community event. Did you know the Goulburn Post is now offering breaking news alerts and a weekly email newsletter? Keep up-to-date with all the local news: sign up below.

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